We're having a quiet weekend so far. Allen took the four oldest to see a movie "Horton Hears a Who", and I just spent that time on base with Logan. I fed him lunch and looked around in some stores. One of them I never go into..the Swarovski store. You can imagine why I wouldn't venture into this crystal-filled store with inquiring hands. I also went into a Dutch shop that had food samples. You can also imagine why I haven't been in here either. I'm not big on samples that have been sitting out, especially when I think of other's kids touching them. Eck. They had some nice cheeses, those sandwich sprinkles, and yummy "stroopwafels". These are so heavenly either cold, or warmed sitting on a mug of tea or coffee. I love them so much, they just might be part of some goodie baskets being mailed for Christmas this year.

It was so nice just having one kid. I love my kids so much, but it felt so nice to be normal! It was nice not to be the mom with five kids. No looks! No silent counting! Logan and I sat out in the sun outside the cinema. He sat in his stroller playing, and I read a book. There was nobody asking me questions; there was no one running away; there was nobody wanting to go buy/look at something. It was heavenly.

The kids had a great time at the movie, with only minor spills of popcorn and gummi bears. All but Ryan were able to sit appropriately. He never sits for long anyway. We went to the community center to a restaurant that serves Greek food (yay for me) and fish and chips (yay for Allen). Allen and the kids made Rice Krispie Treats while Logan and I unloaded the dishwasher.

We are finally going to Daylight Savings Time this weekend. We will again be 7 hours ahead of CST...that makes it more difficult to make family and friend phone calls. I hope that we can convince the kids to go to bed as usual. It's hard to get them to bed when the sun is still up (or "awake" says Nick)!

In the land of lace curtains

Seriously, I live in the land of lace-in every window. I have yet to understand this. Are they inexpensive? A tradition? I like lace curtains if they are the true Belgian lace, but many of these are just those net curtains-" lace-wannabees". By the way, I have linen curtains in the kitchen and the PBK valances in the kid's rooms, so I'm sure my house looks out of the ordinary.

Schedules seem pretty predictable here. I see the same people walking down our street, at the same time during most days. I see the same skinny jogger going up the hill and past our house about 4-5 times. I admire this man since we live off a pretty steep hill that makes your legs burn while walking uphill!

When I say things are predictable, I am also describing the delivery of daily goods. In the past weeks I have found myself home more often due to illness and snowy weather. That has allowed me to observe the daily deliveries. On Wednesdays the egg delivery man arrives. I couldn't believe it! Eggs! truck drives up and honks his horn. The little old ladies from across the street come outside with their egg crates and he fills them up. I didn't know there was such a demand for eggs. On Thursdays the "Gertranke Simon" truck arrives. He carries big crates of bottled drinks inside houses. I know that getranke is beverage, but I haven't figured out what type of beverages he is delivering, and if I might needed those beverages....
Here is the egg delivery truck!
On Friday there is frozen food delivery, and on Saturday I see the bakery truck arrive about 11:00 a.m. They have loaves of bread (brot) and all sorts of rolls (brötchen). We love the bakery truck, especially when they still have pretzels available. I think it's great to have home delivery services! When we lived in the UK we had milk and water delivery. The milk man delivered either pints or liters of milk, along with many other items (bread, sparkling water, juice, butter, yogurt, cheese, etc). My neighbor next door had fruit and veggie delivery from an organic farm. What a great idea! I also loved having home delivery from the Tesco grocery store. It cost an average of $6.00-7.00, but if you consider the cost of gas(we did not have a store in our village), and not having to drag kids through the store-it was well worth it! Delivery of items that you place in your bag online, right to your door! And the window delivery time is only 2 hours! You only need to be at home during those two hours, and then get on with your day. Loved. It.

We won't even discuss the sad fact that I now know the delivery schedules on this street. I need to get out more.

If I get a cute picture of a house with those infamous lace curtains, I will post it :).



Since the laptop has so graciously allowed Internet access recently, I have been on it more than usual to catch up on e-mails, blog lurking and commenting, etc. The oldest daughter has apparently installed Messenger on this computer and I have been constantly fielding "Hiya" comments popping up at me. Sometimes I reply back that Ashlyn is a) at school, or b) in bed (some log on late at night). I should state that many of the girls sending her messages are schoolmates in the UK who are currently on term break (the week-long break between the three 12-week school terms-make sense?).

I guess I'm glad that she has friends who are so anxious to interact with her, but I'm wondering why I haven't set this up for myself. But then again, who would I IM?


The New and Improved Logan

After months and months of bugging me....I finally gave in to Allen's request to cut Logan's hair. It was really shaggy and the poor guy had hair sticking up everywhere! We had it cut Saturday morning, and he was amazingly still. It was very un-Logan-like.
I asked the lady if she could get rid of his attitude while she was cutting things away. I'm still waiting to see if it worked.

I know too well that it signifies the end of the baby stage, and I just wasn't ready to give that up! I know he will never look like that cute baby with his hair sticking up everywhere! Our pediatrician said that he looked like a little surfer dude with his blond spiky hair. Here are some pictures of that crazy hair at 3 months (Easter 2007) and two weeks-old. So sweet!

I love this little guy! I miss the hair, but he looks very handsome now! In fact, I think he looks like his older brother. What do you think? Here are two pictures of Logan at 14 months (L), and Nicholas at 16 months (R).


No More Complaining

I don't want to hear anyone complaining about expensive gas! I just paid $0.94 per liter for gas! That is around $3.50 per gallon! We have been paying over $2.50 per gallon for years though in the UK. It's not as though we have many options. It's either buy on base for that price, or on the economy for $8.39 per gallon (Germans pay € 1.44 per liter)-yikes!

We've had sleet, snow, ice and more snow flurries this week! It has snowed more in the past week than it did in the winter months of December and January. The snow really put a kink in our Easter egg hunts and celebrations. I will post pictures tomorrow with some details. We are finally online again with the laptop. For some reason, I just didn't make it up to the 3rd floor computer to post anything or check e-mails frequently over the past 4-5 days.

Check again soon! :). I promise I will get to it.


A Secret Desire

I might have a Jamie Oliver, Julia Childs, Nigella Lawson or even Rachel Ray in me, but I just don't know how to help it. I took several cooking classes offered at a neat cooking store in Texas once. It was so much fun! A group of my friends got together for the evening and learned some nice recipes. While visiting my good friend Gabrielle years ago I noticed that she had cookbooks with colored tags on pages. It occurred to me that she was actually trying different recipes-what a concept!) She was a stay-at-home mom at the time and I was working, so I thought I might do that someday if I was at home during the day. Uhm, well not yet.

I have had a secret desire to be a great cook and try out really neat recipes that I find. I have lots of magazines and recipes from magazines that I have tagged or torn out to try. I love cookbooks! I have quite a few of them, and they even have tagged pages! My mom had a great idea to put those pages and in a cute storage box in the kitchen and keep the ones I liked on the top. It was a great idea-little organization. It worked until we moved. Now, I'm not sure where those recipes have been placed since boxes like that were emptied by our movers and filled with other things (don't ask-arghh!). I have been exploring crock pot recipes lately, since that allows more evening time when kids get grumpy and homework issues arise.

I really want to try new recipes, but seem to get stuck with the same old ideas. Part of the problem is me not making time to look over the books or recipes and plan ahead. It is also because when I do make an effort to try different things my family is not usually that thrilled. They are happy with the same old things-meatloaf, spaghetti, egg burritos, pasta bakes, soups, baked chicken, grilled items, etc. Maybe someday they will be more excited to try new things, so we'll keep trying. They are always happy to have breakfast for dinner (cereal, pancakes, french toast, or fruit).

Well, off to make a pasta bake and steam some veggies. Yawn.



"I cannot go to school today...."-just like the super cute Shel Silverstein poem, we all have been sick here. That sickness has covered all realms. No one was exempt. Coughing and stuffy noses could be heard all around the house. As for myself, I can actually breathe for the first time in 11 days. What a blessing! I really missed breathing. It has been about 7 years since I have felt so miserable (bronchitis, congestion, borderline pneumonia, aches, low fever, headache, sinus pressure). Ironically, our laptop decided to get sick also, and didn't want to connect to the Internet. I just didn't want to go up to the computer on the 3rd floor, so I have been offline most of the week. Logan happened to be pushing keys on it last night and the Internet decided to connect again. He's a genius, I tell you.

Even though Allen didn't feel so great, he did take all three boys for errands and grocery shopping on Saturday. He said that a lady commented about the boys (hopefully being good) and he gave me credit and said something along the lines that his wife does this all of the time! I didn't describe it well, but it was meant as a compliment. There is nothing like a dad spending a day with the kids (while she feels like doing zilch) to remind him just how much his wife does.

The boys and I walked down to the town today for some fresh air and to pick up a few items from the store. We stopped by the bakery on the way home for some yummy cheese pretzels. Nicholas prefers this big sandwich cookie thing that is shaped like a banana with chocolate on the edges and in the middle. I'm not sure what it is called! It was nice to get out, but it was cool and cloudy. I like cool weather, but Nick worried because his hands were getting red. He didn't want his hat and gloves before we left, by the way :).

The girls had standardized testing at school last week and felt really good about most of it. Ashlyn came home one day and was asking questions about the American Revolution that were on her test. Lauren knew the answers because they were learning about it in 3rd grade. Oops! I guess Ashlyn will have to research that subject. We laughed because American history was not a priority in her British school theses past years-imagine that! Ashlyn does know about the Crimean War, the 100 years war and the War of the Roses, which I'm sure is not included in US curriculum. I don't remember learning about them.

Last week we had a nice non-homework week due to the testing, but the girls arrived home today with folders in hand. Lauren typically works frantically on her homework with a pencil that is two inches long (no kidding) with no eraser-always. It doesn't matter how many pencils and erasers I buy this girl, she always has a terrible pencil.

What else.....oh! Spring Break is looming ahead and we have no plans. For some reason that bothers me. I guess I just want to be superficial and be able to say we are going on this fun, awesome holiday over the week. If we don't make some last minute plans I really need to make some daily plans or else we will spend the week doing the fun things-you know...laundry, swiffering, cleaning out closets. Maybe we can make some trips to the library, park and an indoor play area.

That's a small update-thanks for coming back to check in with us!


Lolly Pop Man

I heard the cutest word on t.v. the other night. We have Sky digital that broadcasts from the UK. They were featuring a woman who was trying to convince a high-traffic town to stop driving and walk. They called the person assisting children who were crossing the street a "lollypop man". I have never heard that! He was holding a round sign on a pole, like a lollypop! That makes the "crossing guard" term sound so unfriendly. Here is a cute link to a funny lollypop man situation. I remember seeing it on a funny show "Just For Laughs". Enjoy!

Here are some other UK terms that I like:

"trolley" for shopping cart

"dust bin" for trash can (it sounds so much nicer, doesn't it?)

"bin men" are the dear souls who collect the bins

"a flake" -a thin chocolate stick placed in a soft serve ice cream

"scone"-a yummy biscuit-type pastry that is slightly sweet. sometimes they have currants in them, but I prefer plain or cheese ones. It's a fun word to draw out the "au" sound-highly proper :)

"rubbish"-it sounds so much better than garbage

That's it for now, I may add more if I think of them.


Sending Love

These were taken on Valentine's Day in their cute themed shirts, but they are just now making it to the blog. It seems when I make an attempt to use the computer on the 3rd floor (where the loading thing is for the digital disk) either a) somebody has SIMS 2 going and I can't use it, or b) there is such a huge amount of stuff all over the room that I either get distracted and have them clean up or walk out-ugh.

Happy Birthday Nana! We love you and can't wait to see you this summer! Ryan has become a cooking expert with oatmeal cookies and RC Treats to satisfy your sweet tooth.

We are all fighting runny noses, chest /coughing stuff here. Spring please come!

I need some ideas for spring break. I thought about contacting my friend in the Netherlands and seeing the tulips (my fav flower!) for a few days. If not, then maybe we can see some local sights or visit Trier again. H&M, here I come :)! Several of my friends from junior high and high school are spending part of the week in a Mexican resort. If only I could jet away. *sigh*

The new and improved playhouse. This area is used many, many times during the day....and there is storage drawers to raid and hide things.


Nicholas' Birthday

Finally, pictures are uploaded. Looking back, Nicholas had a fantastic birthday. We went to the store to buy some cupcakes and food items for his "birthday dinner". He went to the toy store and spent the money that Aunt Kazumi, Uncle Scott and cousins Emily and Aylie sent . He happily picked out four Pixar diecast cars and opened them on the way home. He paid for them with his own money (love that) and told the cashier that he was five today. He waited anxoiusly until daddy came home so we could start his "party". We didn't have anyone over, just the family since it was a school night. He received a SpongeBob watch that he had picked out several months ago. It was funny that he was trying to guess what the gift was-he had forgotten :). We ordered him some Pixar cars (the "Hot Runners" and Chick Hicks) and "Mack" bachelor pad, but I accidently had them go to the wrong/old address. They arrived a few days later with big excitement!

Nick is talking to Nana and showing off his watch at the same time-talented!

We celebrated on Saturday again with extended family. We met up with my cousin's wife, Melissa and her three kids at a nearby indoor playland. We were happy that she was able to come and share in the fun with pizza, arcade games, and climbing tubes, etc. I spent the morning baking and decorating a SpongeBob cake and this is how it turned out-not bad! I just looked at
ideas on the net.
Some of the cousins and siblings
Nick received lots of money this year for gifts. He loves to count it (mizer that he is) and is debating on saving up for a Nintendo DS lite, or buying a knight costume. Melissa gave him these cool glasses on his card. He is such a birthday enthusiast, that he is already saying that he is "almost six" and wants a Lightening McQueen party next year. Poor guy. We usually have bigger parties, but I just wasn't up for it this year. He will have a bigger party next year since he will have kindergarten friends.

A Different "Normal"

Don't get me wrong. Our length of overseas time has been our choice. It has allowed us different options to see different cultures and experiences. It has allowed us to avoid living in some places that we weren't very excited about. It certainly has set a norm for our children that others don't experience. For one, it has allowed me to stay home with our children, and I am grateful for having that option. I do occasionally miss having more adult interaction and an office space. I currently call the laundry room my "office" since I am in there quite a bit, and it accumulates my "projects" of boxes to mail , things to donate, items needed for an event, etc.

I have had this conversation with both of my parents recently about how living overseas in the military is definitely different for my kids. For instance, they do not bat an eye at the fact that identification cards are always required to enter installations, and a person is sitting with a gun pointed at those entering. Kids at school come and go throughout the year-and that's normal. At least one of the parents of their classmates at school have pretty much the same job (military), and wear the same clothes. I have had my children often grab a leg while we are on an installation and then look up to see it's not a familiar face.

This, for me, is so different than the scenario in which I grew up. I lived in the same house from the time I was two until graduation. My dad still lives in that same house. I went to school with many of the same kids through high school, and some of us went to the same universities. Everyone's parents had different careers and experiences.

These children can name different countries and monuments that they have visited, and are learning different languages and cultures firsthand. I just think it is exciting, even for me to read a book about English and world history and think to myself "Hmm, I have been there". I hope that they will have learned to be more tolerant of differences and appreciate their experiences. I can't help but wonder what they have missed: being able to develop friendships over years; having grandparents and extended family close; experiencing more conveniences like shopping and restaurants (o.k.-that's what I am obviously missing:); realizing that there are many more career options, and that seeing weapons, concrete barriers, fighter jets and tanks is not the "norm" for most kids.

I really don't see this as a bad experience, I just wonder how it will help them develop as a person.


Please Forgive Me

I know, it's been A WEEK! I still haven't posted anything new and the birthday pictures are still MIA. I can't believe that the week has flown by. The past ten days have been a blur of errands, two birthday celebrations for Nicholas, Lauren attended a bowling birthday party, making spinach/strawberry salad (my fav!) for a pot luck, putting away winter and Valentine's decor, getting out Easrer decor, selling Girl Scout cookies on 3 occasions (both girls), Girl Scout Thinking Day, buying birthday gifts, making Greek hummous and tzatziki dips for GS event, making a display trifold about Greece for GS event, decorating a Sponge Bob cake, getting immunizations for 3 kids and myself, registering Nicholas for T-ball and kindergarten, and the other various weekly events. Yesterday it snowed! In March no less! It was nice because we stayed in and rested.

To end the busy week, I almost (well, maybe I actually did) lost it with Logan. On Monday we were out the door early by 8:50 a.m.(a record for us lately) to attend Ashlyn's semester award ceremony. She received "A Honor Roll"! Yea! After the ceremony we spent 1 -1/2 hours registering Nick between the school nurse and the registrar. We decided to get a sandwich and do some errands. It was raining and Ryan was walking slowly, as usual. He is famous for this. We were pretty wet, so I decided to take the boys and sandwiches to a coffee cafe and eat. Bad idea. Logan is the type who believes that the way to get immediate results is to scream and screech. That is NOT my idea of effective communication. I was getting so frustrated with his screeching that I finally pushed him (in stroller) around the corner and told him "no screaming" very firmly. He continued to cry. Offering him food was either not effective or fast enough. I went to pick up my coffee (vanilla latte) and as I sat down with him he grabbed it off the table and it splattered everywhere. I mean everywhere-the wall, on my pants, in my shoe, in my tote bag, the floor, on his shirt....arghh! I wanted to cry and leave, but packing up a crying baby and two boys with various lunch items and leaving a huge puddle on the floor was just too much. I pushed him away from us and proceeded to clean up. A nice man sitting nearby took pity (probably single and plans to remain childless after witnessing this baby and his tantrums) and found an employee with a mop. I am sure that the group of people ther having conversations and using their laptops were happy when we finally left. The afternoon continued with two rude drivers and ugly parking lot situations, frustrating registration (and lack of sports physical), returning home to drop off three kids and make the return 20 minute drive (with the other two) only to discover that the meeting was cancelled (isn't there a reason that I gave my mobile number?). So later in the evening, when Logan started emptying cabinets, pulling cookbooks out and flooding the floor with the water cooler-I lost it. That boy is relentless-and busy-and high energy. I had a bad mommy moment that had been building up all day. He was soon in bed where he could take a break.

Oh! The one good thing about the day-he made a sign for "more". I had been showing him that instead of screaming and he did it! He laughed and thought it was funny. Maybe he really needs his communication to develop right now to keep up with his expanding curiosity and abilities.